Monday, October 31, 2011

‘member that time? Guest blogger

This Halloween memory of old was told to me by my husband, Brent.  Enjoy!

‘member that time when I was really too old to trick or treat, and I knew it was probably my last year of going out, so my buddy Jeff and I decided to go for the mother load? 

‘member how we didn’t have costumes so we just put on masks and we decided to hit every house in the big metropolis of Sibley?  Yeah, well, we went out early and stayed out late and we probably each got about 12 pounds of candy in our brown paper bags. 

And then member how after Jeff went to his house and I was still about two blocks from mine, a souped-up car of big high school boys started to follow me…and I started to get nervous…and I started walking faster and faster…and then how they finally jumped out of their car and tried to get my candy?

Well, I had worked long and hard to get that much loot, and since I knew I couldn’t outrun them, I decided that it was my candy or my life. And I chose my candy. So, with fierce determination, I dropped to the ground , put a cradle hold on the bag, and rolled over into a ball while the big boys pummeled and kicked me.  Finally the headlights of another car exposed the evil deeds of these boys and I ran home bruised but triumphant.

I ate candy for a very long time that year.  And the high schoolers didn’t.

And I never went trick or treating again.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Southern charm

No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, and yes, I am busier than I would like to be, but I have one big hallelujah: I finished the 36 chapter study guide (for a book we are studying at church) that I had been working on since August.  Boy, is it nice to have that finished! 

Anyway, that is where I have been, y’all.

And now I ‘m here, y’all.

And God’s been talking.  And I’ve been listening.

But right now, I’m too tired to think, y’all.

So y’all are just gonna have to wait until I sleep, cause my mind is percolating with stories. 

And I have to find the ideas I scribbled on napkins and sticky notes and church programs and the backs of Theisen’s receipts.

And I’m gonna write ‘em all down after a good night (or 5) of snuggling down in my happy-feelin’ flannel sheets.

So, there ya have it.  Just be patient.  The creativity is getting’ warm, but it’s the simmering that makes it tasty. 

Can I hear an “Amen”?!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?!

For I know the plans I have for y’all,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper y’all and not to harm y’all, plans to give y’all hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 TSV (Tori’s Southern Version)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Be at Peace

I found this little poem which I love, love, love.  I think I need to read it everyday—or at least until I believe it.

Be at Peace

Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life;

rather look to them with full hope as they arise.

God, whose very own you are,

will deliver you from out of them.

He has kept you hitherto,

and He will lead you safely through all things;

and when you cannot stand it,

God will bury you in his arms.

Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;

the same everlasting Father who cares for you today

will take care of you then and everyday.

He will either shield you from suffering,

or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace,

and put aside all anxious thoughts and imagination.


St. Francis de Sales 1567-1622

Monday, October 17, 2011


I promised myself some writing time if I got my house cleaned today and now that the upstairs is clean, I am indulging in my reward.  I still have to clean the apartment since someone is moving in tomorrow, but I must take a break, so here I am.  I know that I normally post a ‘member that time?’ on Mondays, but I couldn’t remember anything (see the reason here), so I decided just to write something else.

Like I have said before, God teaches me through the most ordinary things.  Yesterday, he taught me something with a sunbeam.  So…as I was sitting at the table contemplating how I could get out of running—which I actually needed to do because I am preparing for a race—I noticed how the sunbeams were shining in my windows exposing my very dusty furniture, pictures, appliances, etc.  I wondered why everything, all of a sudden, appeared so dusty—it must have something to do with the sun being lower in the sky earlier in the day—and then I realized that the dust had been there all the time.  At least it had been there since I last ran a Pledge-sprayed cloth over it. The dust wasn’t new.  I just hadn’t noticed it until the light showed me it was there.

I have lots of “dust” in my life, but it’s only when I spend time in the Light that I am aware of it.  When I take the opportunity to meditate on God’s truths, the false things that I believe suddenly show up.  When I ask God to reveal my sin to me, He is faithful to show me areas in my life that don’t glorify Him; these areas are not “new”, they are just habits, attitudes, and actions to which I have grown accustomed—“dusty” things that feel comfortable to me, but uncomfortable to the God who promises to make me white as snow.

Today, I dusted with a rag and cleaned off my tables…and I dusted with the Bible and cleaned up my heart.  It’s something I have to do again…and again…and again.  But He is faithful and continues to work on me—dust and all.

All because of a little sunbeam! 

He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.

1 Corinthians 4:5


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Reflections on getting older…

I guess I would be what they call '”middle aged” now because nobody ever asks for my ID anymore--like I buy lots of alcohol and cigarettes—and I’m too young for those senior discounts that you get at places like Movies 12 and Perkins. And though I look at myself in the mirror everyday and probably don’t really see how much I have aged in the last 20 years, there are a few things that I have observed about my middle-aged self.  Here they are:

  • The freshness doesn’t last.  Here’s what I mean by that:  After I shower in the morning and for about 4-6 hours afterward, I would say, I’m looking fairly decent for 44, but as I reach those afternoon and evening hours, I start to look remarkably similar to what one would term a “grease monkey”.  The bloom fades fast at my age, so,if you need to schedule an appointment with me, get me first thing in the morning while I still have a little freshness left.
  • My skin is starting to look slightly leopard-like.  I have dark age spots on my back and my hands and you know that age-spot fade cream they advertise in magazines?  You have to use that stuff like 35 times a day to be less spotted.  I think I will just have to accept my leopard skin as status quo. Maybe I will buy a leopard print purse to match.
  • When I go all out and get a pedicure, they have to get out the power tools just to get the callouses off my feet.  And the whole Ped-egg thing that I got at Target so my heels would be baby soft…it doesn’t work.
  • When I see pictures of myself with my beautiful teenage girls (or my handsome sons), they look colorful and vivacious, and I look tired and faded.  See the freshness observation above.
  • When people say that I look exhausted, I get really paranoid  because I think that the bags under my eyes must be getting even bigger and darker.  Most of the time when I hear this, I am not exhausted, I am just not as fresh as I was earlier in the day.
  • When I get up in the morning, I try not to look at myself because I am so pale and un-fresh looking.  For those of you in boot camp with me at 5 a.m., this is why I always wear a hat. I figure that the shadow of the hat creates the optimum disguise for the puffiness under my eyes and the splotchiness of my leopard-like skin.
  • When I wash my hair during my shower, I probably use double the shampoo I need because I can never remember if I already washed my hair or not, so I just wash it again. The same goes for laundry detergent.  I keep telling myself I need to come up with a system to help me remember if I added the soap already, but I keep forgetting to create this system.
  • I find myself using the terms “what’s-her-name” and “that thing” a lot because the whole recall mechanism takes much longer now. I’m getting pretty good at using descriptive terms lately and letting my teenagers think of the names/words for me.
  • I notice myself bragging to my family at the amount of vegetables I am able to fit in my smoothie in the mornings. I pride myself in my small accomplishments…it used to be how many miles I could run in the morning…now it’s whether I fit the edamame in the blender of not.
  • I stay up way past my bedtime (8:24) writing out my feelings about being on the door-step of death.

So there you go.  Unappetizing? yes. True? yes. Pitiful? Probably.  Finished with observations? Finally. 

Excuse me now…my rocking chair is waiting.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

His Treasured Possession

A few weeks ago, my friend Kathy taught about being the “body of Christ.”  She told us that we are all necessary and that none of us should complain by saying, “I wish I was a different body part.”  During her teaching she distributed the following story.  I found it convicting because although the author of this essay could have done lots of grumbling about the “part” she was given, she instead learned to praise God for who He made her.  It’s long, but so worth the read.  Check it out:

I was born with Down syndrome 30 years ago. This makes some things very difficult for me. When I was younger, I spent a lot of time asking God, Why did you make me with Down Syndrome? Why can’t I be normal like other people?

I told Him all the time that I didn’t like having Down syndrome. I kept thinking that if only I didn’t have Down syndrome I would be happy. I thought that somehow God made a mistake when He made me. My Mom and Dad always told me they loved me so deeply, and that they could not love me any more, but somehow down deep in my heart I always wondered if they would love me more if I didn’t have Down Syndrome.

When I was in high school, the kids on the school bus were very mean to me. They laughed at me, and mocked me and they called me all kinds of bad names, and told me that even my parents couldn’t love me. That hurt me so deeply!

When I got off the school bus in the afternoon, I would be crying. My Mom met me at the door, and we would talk and pray every day. She told me that people used to say bad things about Jesus and call Him names too, so He understood exactly how I felt. She told me that real truth is only found in God’s Word, and not in what other people say about you. She told me that if I could find anywhere in the Bible where God calls me bad names, or said I was a mistake; she would pay me $5,000. I spent a lot of time reading in the Bible to find out what God said about me. All the Scriptures I found said just the opposite, so I never did get the $5,000!

Some of my favorite Scriptures are: Psalm 139:14 where God says,“I am fearfully and wonderfully made." God tells me in Psalm 17, "I am the apple of His eye." In Deuteronomy 7:6, God tells me that I am "His treasured possession." In Philippians 4:8, God tells me to think about whatever is "true, noble, right, pure, and lovely." I like to think about the truth that God tells me and spend my time thinking about what God says is true. The last Scripture I want to share is Psalm 119:114, “You are my refuge and my shield. I have put my hope in your Word.” My confidence and hope is in God. I know now that instead of being a mistake, I am the Lord’s treasured possession.

I like to memorize Scripture and fill my mind with the truth of who God says I am. This understanding has made all the difference in my life. Now I recognize that God has a plan for my life, and He created me just the way I am for His special purpose. I may still have Down syndrome, but now instead of saying “if only” I didn’t have Down syndrome, I say, “So what, I will glorify God just the way He made me." I know He loves me and cares for me with His whole heart.

The Lord showed me that I am not a mistake, but I am a precious gift…His treasured possession. We have a choice to believe and fill our minds with God’s truth, which will change our hearts, or listen to what other people say and be sad. It is a choice we must each make. In Exodus 4:10, Moses tells God that he can’t do what God told him to do because he was slow of speech and tongue. In verse 11, the Lord said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go. I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” He made me just the way He made me for just the special purpose I was created for. There is special work He has for me to do that can only be done by me, just the way He created me. (See Ephesians 2:10)

If I spend my time wishing I was different, I will never get around to doing those things God wants me to do. If your heart is sad because you wish God had made you different, read in His Word the truth of what He says about you, believe it, and let Him change your heart. Nothing is impossible with God. He certainly did change my heart.

Lord, I pray for each person, that you will fill their heart with Your truth of who they really are and how much you love them. AMEN!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Understanding Obedience

I  had some attitude problems as a kid, and sometimes I was just downright naughty.  I always felt bad about disobedience when I was in it, but I felt powerless to act any differently.  Then, at 18, when I truly understood that I could have a relationship with Jesus—and that His good spirit could live inside my bad self—I was in…hook, line, and sinker!

The reason being born-again was so appealing to me then (and now) was because I, through this re-birth, could gain freedom from myself and my willful, but seemingly too-powerful-for-me emotions. I didn’t want to be naughty;  I wanted to be good.  I didn’t want to be the bad kid; I wanted to obey.  I guess this must be the reason that passages about obedience catch my eye and motivate me toward even greater devotion to my Freedom-Giver. 

I don’t say all of this to illustrate how incredibly holy I have become now, because I still struggle—every day.  I’ve had lots of victories and many defeats, but I am equipped with the Godliness that I need to make the decisions for obedience.  And this obedience is what makes me keep struggling on.  It’s when I obey that I learn more about God.  It’s when I obey that He gives wisdom. 

Here’s what Oswald Chambers had to say about obedience yesterday in My Upmost for His Highest,

If you obey God in the first thing He shows you, then He instantly opens up the next truth to you. You could read volumes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when five minutes of total, uncompromising obedience would make things as clear as sunlight. Don’t say, “I suppose I will understand these things someday!” You can understand them now. And it is not study that brings understanding to you, but obedience. Even the smallest bit of obedience opens heaven, and the deepest truths of God immediately become yours. Yet God will never reveal more truth about Himself to you, until you have obeyed what you know already.

How’s that for motivation?  I want Heaven to open up to me!  I want the deepest truths of God to be mine!  I want God to reveal more about Himself to me! 

Lord, help me get beyond myself so I can run straight to You. 

Lord, help me to obey.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

2 Peter 1:3

Monday, October 10, 2011

‘member that time?

‘member that time when I found whole chickens for $.85/lb. at Aldi’s?   And member how I bought two, but I froze one and cooked the other one in the crock pot all day so I could make chicken and black bean burritos with the meat? 

And then member how I took it out of the crock pot when it was all cooked and put it in a Tupperware outside on the porch swing to cool?  And how I completely forgot about it when the whole family decided to go to the movie Courageous

Then member the next afternoon, when I saw Shay go onto the porch and saw her wordlessly pointing at the swing in horror?  Yeah, well, she found the chicken.  And I didn’t make burritos.

Let’s just say Neo was a very happy dog that night.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Race Worthy

So, in all seriousness now, I am going to tell you something that God showed me. and it has nothing to do with dead rabbits.

Yesterday at boot camp, for one of the stations, we had to run around the building…outside…in the dark.  Remember, it’s 5 in the morning here.  Normally, running around the building wouldn’t be a big deal—it wouldn’t thrill me—but it wouldn’t terrify me either.

Yesterday, it terrified me.  It terrified me because as we came out the door of the building—in the light—we swiftly rounded the corner—and were immersed in complete darkness.  This darkness was not the kind of thing where you can kind of see your feet moving or sense that there might be danger near;  It was the kind of darkness where everything is unseen.  Now remember, I was RUNNING in this darkness…unable to see where I was going…or even if anyone was in front of me…unable to see if there was an obstacle ahead that I was going to run into, fall over and break my head open.  But I kept running because I figured that Jeff (the head honcho) had checked out the pathway in the light and found it safe.  I also trusted that he wouldn’t place anything in the path to purposely trip me up.  He was trying to get me in shape, not put me in the hospital.  I trusted that Jeff had my best in mind, so I ran in the dark even though I was scared.

Sometimes in my life, I feel like I am running in the dark.  And sometimes I want to stop and walk or even turn around and go back because I don’t know what is ahead.  But I think God showed me this whole thing to say, “Hey, Tori, you can trust Me too—even when you can’t see your future.  I am Reliable.” 

Why do I find it so much easier to trust a fallible man with skin on rather than a perfect God whom I cannot see? Because sometimes I struggle believing that God is good all the time.  but He is.  And sometimes I tremble when I see the waves of life coming at me; I think He must have forgotten me. but He hasn’t.  And sometimes, I’m scared of the dark, dark stuff that this world serves up and I think that Satan is the victor.  but he’s not.

God’s purposes will prevail.  I want to be a part of those purposes. That means I have to run in the dark sometimes—even when I don’t like it or I don’t understand.

I place my confidence in His promises;

For he will command his angels concerning you
   to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands,
   so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. (Ps 91:11-12)

I place my trust in His victory;

 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:37-39)

And I hide my life in the life of His Son;

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Col 3:2-3)

If God is for me, who can be against me?

Even in the dark.

I’ll trust Him. Will you?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Since I have talked about dead bunnies all week, I thought it only appropriate to post a picture from the Book of Bunny Suicides.

I also thought this fitting because I detest ironing. 

I guess it must be hard to be a bunny at times like these.



2 08 Bunny Suicides | 75 Cartoon Strips

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Flat Rabbits

Not sure why my mind is obsessed with dead rabbits lately, but so be it. Here’s your weekly “Lessons God Taught Me through Animals” post. Sorry I couldn’t think of a catchier name.  I’m open for suggestions…and a jingle if you are so inclined.

As I was driving to boot camp this morning at 4:48, I noticed a rabbit (and two raccoons and three white-tailed deer) trying to avoid certain death as my car zoomed by. This rabbit was different than the other wildlife that I observed on my short commute; while the maybe-somewhat-smarter raccoon and deer ducked for cover in the nearby forest of trees, the rabbit, being a city dweller, ran under another car—albeit stationary. And the first thought that came to mind was, “he thinks he’s safe there.”

Sometimes, I think we are like that. Our lives start getting uncomfortable, or painful, or out of control, and we think our protection lies somewhere in this world. We think if we can just find a way out of this suffocating circumstance, these painful memories, or these dizzying demands on our time, that we will feel safe and relaxed. But we’re wrong—just like that rabbit was wrong. In the same way that we know that eventually that car will start up again…and eventually it will back over that creature that looked for protection behind its wheel…when we run to anything but the one true God for comfort, that false protector will eventually pull us away from the real one—and maybe even crush us.

As Christians, we know where our Real Security lies; it is not in ease or comfort or wealth. It’s not in education, or influence, or beauty or other relationships. We only have real safety when we hide ourselves with Christ in God—He is truly our Rock and our Refuge--all other things will disappoint.

Just like the car disappointed that flat rabbit.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
   my shield and the horn of my salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior…

2 Samuel 22:2-3

Monday, October 3, 2011

‘member that time?

This ‘member that time is for my foster brother, Bruce, whose birthday is tomorrow.  Happy Birthday Bruce! 

‘member that time when Bruce got me a brown fuzzy rabbit for my birthday and member how I named it Tarzan?  And member how one lazy summer day I went out to feed my beloved pet and his head had been ripped off by a dog or some other ferocious beast?  member that?  That was an unpleasant experience for an 8 year old.  Not to mention gross. No more swinging in the jungle for that Tarzan. Not that rabbits do a lot of swinging on vines…but you know what I mean. 

Pretty sad stuff, huh?  But I have recovered by now and developed into a normal human being even after that horrific experience.

And I even have more pets and all of them still have their heads.